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Colorado Study Finds One in Six Children Hospitalized for Lung Inflammation
Tests Positive for Marijuana Exposure
 
One in six infants and toddlers admitted to Children’s Hospital Colorado with coughing, wheezing, and other symptoms of bronchitis tested positive for marijuana exposure. Parents of children who were previously healthy before admission were recruited and asked to complete a questionnaire about their child’s health, demographics, and exposure to tobacco and marijuana smoke.
 
More children were THC positive after legalization (21 percent) than before (10 percent), and non-white children were more likely to be exposed than white children.
 
“As marijuana becomes more available and acceptable, we need to learn more about how this may affect children’s health and development,” says lead researcher Karen M. Wilson, MD, MPH, FAAP, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and section head of the hospital. “In the meantime, marijuana should never be smoked in the presence of children.”
 
Read story here.
 
Vermont House Kills Marijuana Legalization
 
In a 121-28 vote yesterday, the Vermont House of Representatives killed a bill to legalize and commercialize marijuana. The state would have been the first to legalize the drug via legislation and the effort, pushed by out-of-state legalization forces with large amounts of lobbying money, went down to resounding defeat.
 
Also defeated were proposals to decriminalize possession and cultivation of up to two marijuana plants and to put the legalization issue up for a vote via referendum in the fall.
 
Four states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use, all by voter initiatives, all introduced and sponsored by out-of-state legalization organizations with hefty war chests to finance the efforts.
 
Advocates insist legalization is inevitable, but this year alone Ohio voted down an initiative that would have legalized marijuana for medical and recreational use, the Missouri legislature turned down a medical marijuana bill, and the Georgia, Utah, and Idaho legislatures refused to expand limited access CBD laws that would have permitted the cultivation, processing and sale of so-called low THC cannabis oil products.
 
Read stories here and here.
 
California's Gearing Up to
Rein in Medical Marijuana

California has taken steps to regulate its medical marijuana industry and not a moment too soon. The state legalized pot for medical use in 1996, but only now has passed legislation to regulate it, effective 2018. Then, growers, distributors, testing labs, processors, and retail shops will be required to operate under one of 17 types of licenses from the state.

Currently, California has an estimated 50,000 growers, or one grower for every 778 California citizens, assuming all the pot grown in the state stays in the state.  But by 2018, officials expect tens of thousands of growers and other marijuana businesses to apply for licenses, and that number will mushroom if voters pass one of 14 initiatives headed for the November ballot to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

Three state agencies will issue licenses and nine more are charged with various oversight responsibilities for medical pot. These include:
  • the state medical board, which will ensure doctors are appropriately recommending marijuana for patients and will reprimand those who aren’t
  • the department of justice, which will conduct background checks on all licensees
  • the board of equalization, which will issue seller permits to retailers, collect taxes, and trace all marijuana products
  • the departments of fish and game and of state water resources, which will devise ways to mitigate the impact of cultivation on state waterways
  • the department of food and agriculture, which will issue growing licenses
  • the department of public health, which will oversee the manufacture and testing of all marijuana products for purity and potency 
The state expects to add 126 new jobs and spend $24.6 in the coming year alone.
 
Read story here.
 
Hospitals, Doctors Back Petition
to Stop Production and Sale of
Recreational Marijuana in Pueblo County
 
The intensive care unit at St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center in Pueblo County, Colorado, is seeing a dramatic increase in the number of babies who test positive for marijuana at birth. What’s more, their mothers see no harm in smoking pot while breastfeeding their infants.

Hospital doctors say that the American Academy of Pediatrics “has linked marijuana in newborn babies, a critical stage for brain development, to academic underachievement and behavioral disorders.” Marijuana passes through the placenta to the baby and is also contained in the breast milk of mothers who use the drug.

Parkview Medical Center and the Pueblo Community Health Center added their support to the ballot initiative as well. The petition is sponsored by Citizens for a Healthy Pueblo.
 
St. Mary-Corwin is on track to see an 88 percent increase in marijuana-related ER and hospital admissions, officials say. And Parkview has seen a 51 percent increase in the number of children ages 18 and under being treated in its emergency rooms for marijuana-related problems.
 
Writing in a guest editorial in the Pueblo Chieftain, Robert N. Alsever, MD, notes that since 2012 when Colorado voted to legalize marijuana, Pueblo’s crime rate index has soared, from 483 crimes in 2011 to 666 in 2013, compared to an index in Denver of 382 and in Colorado Springs of 378.
 
Calls to Pueblo police have increased from 235 in 2012 to 1,333 in 2014. Moreover, one in three violent crimes was related to marijuana in 2014 vs. one in eight the year before. Pueblo’s homeless population has exploded, Dr. Alsever continues. One local shelter served 3,767 homeless people in 2014, up from 2,444 in 2012. He urges Pueblo citizens to sign the petition and vote for it when it gets on the ballot.
 
Read stories here and here and here.
 
Five Reasons Marijuana is Not Medicine
 
The Washington Post has been running a series on drug scheduling. In this contribution, Bertha Madras, professor of psychobiology at McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School, explains why marijuana is not medicine.
 
She begins by noting that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has approved two cannabinoid medications. Marijuana is in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule I drugs are defined as having a high potential for abuse and no accepted use in medicine. The two cannabinoids FDA approved are in lower, less restrictive schedules, while marijuana remains in Schedule I.
 
To obtain FDA approval, FDA requires that a medicine must fulfill five criteria.
 
1. The drug’s chemistry must be known and reproducible.
2. There must be safety studies.
3. There must be adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy.
4. The drug must be accepted by well-qualified experts.
5. Scientific evidence must be widely available.
 
She notes that not one of the thousands of marijuana products sold in dispensaries in states that have legalized the drug for medical use has met these criteria and FDA has not approved a single one.
 
Read story here.
 
Cannabis: Scientists Call for
Action Amid Mental Health Concerns
 
Scientists across the globe say a growing consensus points to the need for global public health campaigns warning that heavy marijuana use in vulnerable people can lead to psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia.
 
“It is important to educate the public about this now,” says Nora Volkow, MD, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Kids who start using drugs in their teen years may never know their full potential. This is also true in relation to the risk for psychosis. The risk is significantly higher for people who begin using marijuana during adolescence. And unfortunately at this point, most people don’t know their genetic risk for psychosis or addiction.”
 
The experts are worried that high-THC concentrations found in today’s marijuana are exacerbating the problem. “There is no doubt that high-potency cannabis, such as skunk (marijuana with levels of THC ranging from 15% to 80%), causes more problems than traditional cannabis, or hash,” says Sir Robin Murray, professor of psychiatric research at King’s College London. “This is the case for dependence, but especially for psychosis.”
 
Read story here.
 
Legalization Battle
Bound for State’s Highest Court
 
In a first, Massachusetts citizens have filed a lawsuit asking the justices of the state’s highest court to throw out the signatures collected to certify a ballot measure that would legalize marijuana for recreational use. The reason? Voters weren’t told what the measure will do.
 
Voters think they are supporting making the leafy green plant legal. They have no idea the initiative will legalize marijuana-infused foods and high-potency concentrates, says John Scheft, the attorney representing the litigants.
 
The concerns echo those of the governor, the speaker of the House, and the mayor of Boston, as well as the state’s school superintendents. The Supreme Judicial Court has set the arguments in a June 8 special session, in an effort to settle the dispute before voter guides and November ballots are printed.
 
Read story here.

Note: Readers who would like to support this challenge to the marijuana legalization ballot initiative in a friend of the court brief (an Amicus Brief) should email Jody S. Hensley at http://jodyshens@aol.com stating you want to be listed in the Amicus Brief. Include your name, your institution or organization if applicable, and your contact information.
 
Readers who would like to support the marijuana legalization ballot initiative should contact its sponsor, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol here.
 
Correction:
Last week, we reported that two Missouri groups worked hard to educate the public about the dangers inherent in legalizing marijuana for any use. The first group was Keeping Missouri Kids Safe (not Safe Kids Missouri). We apologize for the error.
The Marijuana Report is a weekly e-newsletter produced by National Families in Action in partnership with SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana). Subscribe to The Marijuana Report and visit our website, The Marijuana Report.Org, to learn more about the marijuana story unfolding across the nation.

About National Families in Action (NFIA)
NFIA consists of families, scientists, business leaders, physicians, addiction specialists, policymakers, and others committed to protecting children from addictive drugs. Our vision is:
  • Healthy, drug-free kids
  • Nurturing, addiction-free families
  • Scientifically accurate information and education
  • A nation free of Big Marijuana
  • Smart, safe, FDA-approved medicines developed from the cannabis plant (and other plants) 
  • Expanded access to medicines in FDA clinical trials for children with epilepsy

About SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) 

SAM is a nonpartisan alliance of lawmakers, scientists and other concerned citizens who want to move beyond simplistic discussions of "incarceration versus legalization" when discussing marijuana use and instead focus on practical changes in marijuana policy that neither demonizes users nor legalizes the drug. SAM supports a treatment, health-first marijuana policy. 

SAM has four main goals: 
  • To inform public policy with the science of today's marijuana.
  • To reduce the unintended consequences of current marijuana policies, such as lifelong stigma due to arrest.
  • To prevent the establishment of "Big Marijuana" - and a 21st-Century tobacco industry that would market marijuana to children.
  • To promote research of marijuana's medical properties and produce, non-smoked, non-psychoactive pharmacy-attainable medications.
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